Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Thinking way back

We got a comment on a recent post asking about how we found a father, and what legal steps we took in the UK. So, thinking back to a over year ago when our first firm steps began.

After talking half-seriously about starting a family, Cagney and I realised we would like a father, not just a sperm donor, and set about thinking how to find one. We considered ads in the gay press (there are often one or two in the Pink Paper) but that had the disadvantage that we thought it could take a long time to get to know someone well enough from scratch. Around the same time, Cagney started asking (almost) any man we knew if they wanted to give us some sperm - even to the point of asking a straight friend who'd recently got married - in front on his wife! Anyway, one guy responded with "if you're serious, we should talk about this sober".

Having a friend as a father works well in a lot of ways - we already knew that we got on, knew about how long he can maintain close friendships (we're hoping that's a marker for how long we'll maintain a family relationship) and have some trust and common ties before we began. But I think we got lucky - I'm not really sure what we'd have done if Travolta hadn't been keen.

There followed lots of conversations (some quite awkward) about what all our expectations were, and the mechanics of how the insemination would work. We wanted to be clear from the start that we would be 3 equal parents, so we made an appointment with a solicitor (picked from an ad in Diva) to discuss the legal hows.

The legal bit

As Cagney and I are civil partners, that makes things easier (I don't know what would be different if we weren't, but what follows may be specific to the situation of civil partners). In the UK, only 2 people can be listed on the birth certificate. We thought these should be the biological parents. But anyone else can be given "parental rights" simply by signing a document. All 3 people then have equal rights about decisions about schooling, where the child lives etc, but only the biological parents would have the right to put the child up for adoption.

We set out in a legal agreement our intentions - why we were doing this, what commitments we were making to each other and any child. I don't recall the full cost, but it was about a few £100.

Once the child is born, we will need to get the parental rights sorted, so are planning to revisit the solicitor in the months before the birth so that they can be transferred to Cagney asap after the birth. With these, she will have all the same work rights as any other parent (paternity leave, right to flexible working, parental leave while the child is young).

And the rest

The comment also asked about what tests we'd had done. And the answer is - none. Travolta said he'd been tested fairly recently and was scrupulous about practicing safe sex! I think in the UK it's hard to get fertility testing as a woman on the NHS unless you've been trying over a year. But I believe men can get a sperm count quite easily (this sounds sexist, but it's most likely to do with rationing and the relative cost/invasiveness of fertility testing for men and women).

So we just went ahead - taking temperatures, weeing on a stick to predict ovulation, and ferrying pots of fresh sperm across town! (We'd started the temperature charting and stick weeing well in advance, so when the legal/emotional decision was made, we were ready to start right away. Although the logistics and complete nervous embarrassment took a few months to iron out...)

Thank you for responding to our query so positively :0)
It sounds like you have the making of a pretty good arrangement.
I have a gay aunt who is one third of a v similar parenting triangle, and they now have just had their second child, already having a 10 year old son by the same arrangement. Having these rolemodels, I realise it is not all plain sailing but my expectations are also high. By other words I know it can be done, so we would really like to try to organise a similar arrangement.
But we are very much at the beginning of a long journey. We have already had the initial tentative discussions with 2 separate friends, who both showed interest. Which is a good start.
Oh and the LH test strips arrived yesterday, so let the "weeing on a stick" commence!


p.s. are there any good websites you have found helpful?
And is it necessary to also take the temperature, when you are using the strips to detect LH surges?
Hey Juno,

sorry for delay in replying. it's lovely to hear about your aunt - and to know we're following a previously trodden path.

Will have a think on websites, but for now, can share detailed experience of LH sticks!

We both took temperature and LH sticks. The LH goes up around 24 hours before you ovulate, after which you have a 12 hour window in which the egg is viable. Then after you ovulate the temperature goes up. We found using both useful - seeing the surge, and the temperature rise 2 days later meant we knew we'd got it right. And sometimes the surge can start early (faintly). We kept inseminating (when possible) until the temperature rise, to make sure we covered the window. Plus some people say they have trouble detecting the surge because it may only last a few hours.

So yes, I'd say use both. The more information you have to pinpoint your fertile window, the better!
Hi Ripley & Cagney

Thank you for replying, to my questions.

I had my 1st positive LH strip last night. Felt childishly chuffed.
Just found the thermometer is out of batteries. Another item on the list of things to do...

I have got one of my older sister's many children on loan for a fortnight. A 12 year old boy, and he is not making me any less broody.
we are going camping for 10days which should be fun.

How is the pregnancy going?
Any weird cravings? You must be relieved to have cleared the 1st trimester.

I just found your blog today, and have been reading through your posts since the beginning. What an interesting story. I am impressed. All three of you seem like really responsible, stable people, and I think you will all make great parents. Good luck in this lifelong endeavor.

I had been wondering how you met Travolta, and how this all came about, so I'm really glad you addressed these issues.

Margot in Marrakesh
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